FTSE 100 movers: Unilever gains on results; Ashtead drops on read-across
London’s FTSE 100 was up 0.1% to 7,119.40 in afternoon trade as the pound gained ground against the dollar on the back of Theresa May’s call for a snap general election in June.
Unilever put in a solid performance after it upped its quarterly dividend 12% as underlying sales grew 2.9% in the first three months of the year, despite sales volumes remaining in the red for the third consecutive quarter.
Having adopted a new approach to improve shareholder returns and accelerate efforts to boost profitability in the wake of the rejected £115bn takeover approach from Kraft Heinz, the quarterly dividend was bumped 12% higher to €0.3585 per share.
On the downside, equipment rental firm Ashtead retreated after results from US peer United Rentals showed rental rates were under pressure in the first quarter.
Marks & Spencer was trading lower after announcing plans to open 36 new stores in the next six months, as part of its five-year programme to improve the UK store estate.
The retailer, which is also consulting with staff over the proposed closure of six stores, said the new stores include Foodhalls in Bishopsgate in London, Huntingdon, Aylesbury, Spinningfields in central Manchester and Strood in Kent. In addition, there will be brand new locations for M&S with Clothing, Home and Food stores opening in Bracknell and Rushden in July.
Intu Properties, BAE Systems, Barratt Developments, and Smurfit Kappa were all on the back foot as their stock went ex-dividend.
FTSE 100 - Risers
Royal Bank of Scotland Group (RBS) 239.30p 1.53%
Unilever (ULVR) 3,991.50p 1.37%
GKN (GKN) 349.10p 1.31%
Pearson (PSON) 626.00p 1.21%
Lloyds Banking Group (LLOY) 64.34p 1.07%
St James's Place (STJ) 1,068.00p 0.95%
Micro Focus International (MCRO) 2,489.00p 0.93%
easyJet (EZJ) 1,127.00p 0.90%
Whitbread (WTB) 4,193.00p 0.79%
Prudential (PRU) 1,633.50p 0.77%
FTSE 100 - Fallers
Intu Properties (INTU) 274.80p -4.18%
Ashtead Group (AHT) 1,567.00p -3.51%
BAE Systems (BA.) 617.00p -2.14%
Barratt Developments (BDEV) 576.00p -2.04%
Kingfisher (KGF) 329.90p -1.73%
Fresnillo (FRES) 1,519.00p -1.68%
Smurfit Kappa Group (SKG) 1,959.00p -1.46%
Centrica (CNA) 206.90p -1.19%
Persimmon (PSN) 2,271.00p -1.13%
Marks & Spencer Group (MKS) 354.50p -1.09%